Duolingo Language Report 2020

Applied ICD

The 2020 Duolingo Language Report, issued December 15, 2020, includes trends, patterns, and analyses about language learning around the world.

The report includes 500 million learners in all 194 countries, and 39 different languages. It describes how interest in learning different languages has changed over time, especially in response to the global pandemic. It is a fascinating window on language learning across the globe and, of course, language learning is  important part of intercultural dialogue.

The major findings include:

Social Networking, Language Learning & Intercultural Competence

“BookÁlvarez Valencia, J. A., & Fernández Benavides, A. (2019). Using social networking sites for language learning to develop intercultural competence in language education programs. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 12(1), 23-42. DOI: 10.1080/17513057.2018.1503318

Álvarez Valencia & Fernández Benavides examine the influence of Livemocha, a social networking site for language learning (SNSLL) on the intercultural competence of undergraduates learning English in Colombia. They define intercultural competence as “a capability that enables people from different cultural backgrounds to interact, bringing into their act of sign-making their societal, cultural, and individual knowledge about the world to make possible an effective negotiation of meanings” (pp. 25-26).

They found that:

Students decentered and opened themselves to examine their own cultural practices, their own meaning-making processes, and those of other learners of Livemocha” (p. 38)

So the answer was that it had a positive influence on both attitudes and knowledge. There were some issues with what this particular chat system permitted, but overall the results were successful.

USA Far Behind Europe in Language Learning

Applied ICDMcCarthy, Niall. (14 August 2018). The transatlantic divide in language learning. Forbes.

The infographic tells the story of just how few in the USA are bi- or multilingual,  summarizing a Pew Research Center report using Eurostat data, thus the focus on Europe vs the USA:

The explanation for the gap comes from an earlier Pew Research Center report, this one on the state of jobs in the USA, which showed that only 36% of Americans reported that knowing a foreign language was an extremely or very important trait for workers to be successful in today’s economy, ranking it last out of eight skills for workers’ success.